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Gauge Wiring 99 Super Air

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  • Gauge Wiring 99 Super Air

    I will elaborate when I've got more time but I wanted to get a discussion going on the dash/gauge wiring in the pre -00 boats. Has anyone gone with a bus bar ground on their gauges as opposed to the daisy chain? My 99 super air has a few additional gauges (I bought it that way) along with Perfect Pass and this weekend PP started freaking out, then quit working, and so did the tach/hour meter. I believe it's a voltage drop issue but i'm not 100% yet.

  • #2
    If you're talking analog gauges, daisy chaining (barring any cold or corroded joints/connections) should suffice. Would a bus bar and heavier gauge wire be better..... absolutely and that's the way offshore boats were wired back then. Typically most electrical issues in boats revolve around grounding or ground differential as there is no inherent common ground established like in a metal car. I say metal car as early Corvettes were prone to the same electrical issues we see in boats. One advantage boats do have is that the engines are typically placed further away from electronics than say a Corvette but the grounding issues still exist.

    Late 90s to early 2000s were a turning point in gauges for most boat manufactures as they moved from analog to digital gauges. I'm always a bit surprised the switch took so many builders by such one would have thought they (the manufactures and suppliers) would have electrical engineers on staff to architect this correctly. Medallion led the way for crap systems in the very late 90s going into about 2004 or 2005 and the LCD stuff installed during this same period was pure garbage as well. I've worked on several boats with gauge issues with most were attributed to poor grounding and noise on the bus with mixed end results. You can do a lot to make things better but a garbage system will remain a garbage system unless you do a "rip and replace, which is what you see in a lot of boats from the very late 90s to early 2000s. I've found that if you want a significant improvement you'll need to put in significant effort to achieve the desired result.

    Most older boats I've worked on were either poorly or marginally wired from the factory or were "morphed" into a bird's nest of mixed wire types by owners of the years. The biggest improvements I've seen were achieved by eliminating direct connections to the battery and tying both power and grounding from the battery to the dash and/or sound system directly through the use of bus bars. I only use tinned marine rated wire (Genuine Dealz is a great source for all marine grades wiring components) and will typically use two size lower (thicker) gauge wire than is currently installed to ensure proper connectivity.

    As a side note for your PP issue.... if you think this is a noise issue PP has a choke they can sell you to eliminate the noise in the system to their device. This was a dead bang fix on a 2003 MC ProStar that I worked on for a friend. I installed this in line with the power connection and never had an issue with it afterwards.


    • #3
      Thank you for the info. I really haven't poked around in the helm wiring yet but my boat has the air/water temp guage, depth finder, and PP added along with stereo goodies. It was all functional for the first few hours on the new motor but the PP kept freaking out and then shut down all together taking the tach/hour meter with it. I ordered a few bus bars yesterday along with resupplying my terminal box. The connections at the batteries are also a mess so I'm working on a game plan for those as well.